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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

I, Vampire

By Michael Romkey
Fawcett Gold Medal, 360 pp, 1990

I must admit, when I first started reading this book, that it struck me as a rip-off of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. The protagonist, David Parker, is a new, sensitive, arts-loving vampire, unsure of all his new powers. I immediately thought of Louis. 

But, happily, any similarities ended there. In fact, Romkey has written an original vampire tale, to which he has added several sequels. 

David Parker is an unhappy lawyer, freshly divorced, terribly lonely, when he meets a beautiful and mysterious Russian babe named Tatiana. She is a vampire, but Parker doesn't care, because he loves her. So she makes him a vampire, but has to leave immediately because her enemies have tracked her and she must lose them. So David becomes a vampire with no one to show him the ropes.

Until he meets a vampire named Mozart (that's right, that Mozart) in the Nevada desert, who offers to be his mentor. Mozart instructs Parker to fly to Paris, and Mozart will meet him there in six months.

In Paris, though, Parker runs across a wicked vampire, who turns out to be the dreaded Jack the Ripper. Parker now realizes he has been thrust into a gigantic chess game between two competing factions of vampires. 

One faction is the Illuminati, consisting of good vampires. These vampires do not kill their victims, and feed only every two weeks. They exist to guide new vampires and foil the plans of the evil ancient vampire Cesare Borgia, a former evil pope from medieval times. He commands lesser wicked vampires like Jack the Ripper and General von Baden, a German who helped Hitler come to power.

In Romkey's world, the good vampires learn to conquer and master their blood lust, called The Hunger. They abhor violence and murder. The evil vampires revel in their blood lust, wantonly killing anyone they please. They also seek to conquer humanity and rule the world.

As a history buff, I enjoyed the historical characters, such as Mozart and Jack the Ripper, that Romkey has made vampires. The Russian babe turns out to be Tatiana Romanov, daughter of Czar Nicholas, who was murdered (along with his family) by the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution (another point for Romkey: he portrays Bolsheviks and Communists as the monsters they truly were). Rasputin is a vampire. The novel is written in the form of a journal kept by David Parker, which is found by Leonardo da Vinci and sent to Thomas Jefferson, both vampire members of the Illuminati.

This is a great book, and I can't wait to read the sequel.

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